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Gerard Hemsworth. Hidden Agenda


Although his paintings are seemingly unproblematic, simple and innocent, upon closer examination the works of British artist Gerard Hemsworth become confrontational, disconcerting, and provocative in a slightly uncomfortable way. His long career has been devoted to a careful consideration of painting’s options, meanings, and tactics. Hemsworth’s visual language is comprised of line drawings of cartoon–like images, open spaces, and flat muted colors; representational works that have the familiarity of both modernist paintings and storybook pictures. He has developed a project that has allowed him to undermine the seriousness of high modernist art and cultural values, while at the same time providing a space that questions their possibility. Writers have compared Hemsworth’s work to the 19th–century romantic landscape painter Casper–David Friedrich, as well as to the contemporary sculptor best known for his giant reproductions of banal objects in stainless steel, Jeff Koons. The absurdity of this gulf indicates the ability of Hemsworth’s paintings to straddle the sublime and the ridiculous. His paintings are both insistent and subversive, questioning the values and assumptions that the viewer brings to the work—the hidden agenda for which we cannot account.